How Reliable Are Home Valuation Tools?
Posted in Selling by Kenady Swan
What’s your home worth?
It seems like a simple question, but finding that answer is more complicated than it might seem. Sites like Zillow, Redfin, Eppraisal, and others have built-in home valuation tools that make it seem easy, but how accurate are they? And which one do you believe if you get three different answers? Online valuation tools have become a key part of the home buying and selling process, but they’ve been proven to be highly unreliable in certain instances. One thing that is for certain is that these valuation tools have reinforced that real estate agents are as vital to the process of pricing a home as they ever were – and maybe even more so now.
There are limitations to every online valuation tool. Most are readily acknowledged by their providers, such as Zillow’s “Zestimate”, which clearly states that it offers a median error rate of 5%, with varying accuracy across the country. That may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that amounts to a difference of about $35,000 for a $700,000 home. For Redfin and Trulia, there are similar ranges in results. When you dig deeper into these valuation tools, it’s no small wonder that there are discrepancies, as they rely on a range of different sources for information, some more reliable than others.
Redfin’s tool pulls information directly from multiple listing services (MLSs) all over the country. Others negotiate limited data sharing deals with those same services, but also rely on public records, as well as homeowners’ records. This can lead to gaps in coverage. These tools can serve as helpful pieces of the puzzle when buying or selling a home, but the acknowledged error rate is a reminder of the dangers of relying too heavily on them.
Home valuation tools can be a useful starting point in the real estate process, but nothing compares to the level of detail and knowledge a professional real estate agent offers when pricing a home. An algorithm can’t possibly know about a home’s unique characteristics or those of the surrounding neighborhood. They also can’t answer your questions about what improvements you can make to get top dollar or how buyer behaviors are shaping the market. All of this – and more – can only be delivered by a trusted professional whose number one priority is getting you the best price in a time frame that meets your needs.
If you’re curious what your home might be worth, Windermere offers a tool that provides a series of evaluations about your property and the surrounding market. And once you’re ready, we’re happy to connect you with a Windermere agent who can clarify this information and perform a Comparative Market Analysis to get an even more accurate estimate of what your home could sell for in today’s market.
You know those boxes that have been sitting in the attic for the last 25 years? Keepsakes, gift wrap, random wires you have no idea where they connect to? These boxes matter.
It becomes costly when moving, and every little thing does add up quickly. It may seem like a daunting task, but the relief you will have when you go from 12 large boxes of wasted space to 5 will be liberating (we promise 😊)
There are so many things that land on our shelves and gets tucked away in storage just because it “might be useful someday,” or because you simply don’t know what to do with it. RULE OF THUMB: If you haven’t used it in over a year, or if you see no immediate use for it in the coming six months, purge it from your life and give it away, sell it, or toss it in the trash. You may even want to have a garage sale, or sell items to a thrift store. Here’s a good list to remember when you come across the hard stuff:
1. A great rule of thumb is if it were gone tomorrow and you wouldn’t really miss it–toss it.
2. Pictures can be scanned and put to a CD/album. Throw away doubles. Organize into smaller containers to preserve and avoid weather damage.
3. If you don’t know what the cord/battery/electronic is for, bye-bye. There are many great websites that will buy old phones, iPods and electronics if you’d like to take the extra step. Contact your city to find where to rid of the E-waste.
4. Cheap Holiday items. No sentimental value? Toss them. You can re-invest when you’re ready
When I show a home, I always want the kitchen to be inviting. Here are some ways to create a show-friendly kitchen. What are the top five ways to lose a buyer with this one room?
Cluttered counters and walls
The more “stuff” on the counters, the less counter space your room will appear to have. The more bits and pieces plastered on the front of the fridge, the more disorganized and cluttered the whole room will seem to be. The more “decorative” items you have strewn on the walls, the less your potential buyer will be able to imagine their own things on the walls. The idea is to make the buyer imagine living here. The less of you they see, the more of them they can project.
Grimy floors/sink/cabinet tops/appliances
Ii a matter of moments, a floor can become gritty. Add to that a few water spots in the sink, a slight coffee stain from this morning’s essential cup of coffee and a few crumbs perching on top of the toaster… and what do you get? A kitchen that seems dirty and uninviting.
Be sure you take a look at your kitchen with fresh eyes. Stand at the door and pretend you have never seen it before. Imagine you are the grime police. Bring out the white glove. What do you see? Whatever it is, fix it. Now.
Be so bold as to scrub the sink and shine it. Pay special attention to behind the faucet and the rim around the sink. Maybe use an old toothbrush. Sweep, mop and steam clean the floor. Thoroughly clean all appliances, even in the nooks and crannies. Make it simply spotless.
Unsavory smells and odors
Avoid cooking strong smelling food when your house is on the market. Day-old fish, boiled cabbage, onions, etc., will turn off even the most interested buyer. Avoid “covering up smells with strong sprays, over-scented candles and products. Your favorite “gardenia” smell may send your potential buyer into sneezing fits and you’re not kidding anyone. They are going to wonder what you are covering up.
Instead, consider leaving out a single appliance – a bread machine with the timer set to be mid-way through the baking process when the house is to be shown. How many people do you know who don’t like the smell of fresh bread?
Disorganized or insufficient storage space
If your cabinets are brimming with “stuff” or goodness forbid, things tend to tumble out when you open them, you will need to remove all but the most essential items when the house is shown. Pack up all the extras in boxes and put them in storage. Eliminate your “junk drawer” and be sure that your plates, glasses, and bowls are close together and located near to where you will use them.
Organize your pantry area and be sure all food items are neatly stacked and appropriately organized and are not located in various cabinets throughout the kitchen. Consolidate them into one general area.
When you finish cleaning and packing away, make sure that what remains is neatly organized and that everything is located where you are most likely to use it. I guarantee people will look in your cabinets. They will try to determine from your use of the area if there is enough storage space. If you can’t live in the space, why would they believe that they can? If you can’t keep it organized, how will they?
Dark and/or claustrophobic décor
Dark colors in the kitchen make it less inviting. It makes it harder to cook when you have to strain to see what you are doing. Ample light is a must and natural light is best. If your kitchen doesn’t have quality lighting, you need to add it. Consider “natural light” light bulbs and additional light sources under upper cabinets and make the room brim with warm, bright light. If your lights flicker or are dull, replace them. In one kitchen I’ve seen, there was no window to the outside but the owner had added a mirror with “window panel” framing over the sink and a light above it to add light, reflect it and give the impression of a window. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a vast improvement over facing a solid wall while doing dishes.
Claustrophobic decorating would include oversized decorative items in a small kitchen, anything that requires you to dodge, move or step around to do simple tasks. Heavy, low-hanging items that “close in” the space in a kitchen are also ill advised. I recently saw a wrought –iron pan rack that was hung too low over an island in the center of the kitchen. It was covered in pans and it created a visual wall in the center of this modest-sized kitchen. The cook continually had to “bend down” to talk to people on the other side of the rack. This type of decorating was too “claustrophobic” for that space. Replacing the rack with higher-hung lighting would have eliminated the “squeeze” effect and would have lightened, brightened, and expanded the entire room.
What do most people want in a kitchen? They want enough counter space to work and a clean line of sight, so kill the doo-dads and tuck away the cabinet-top appliances. They seek cheerful, well-lit areas and a clean, clean kitchen.
People looking at today’s kitchen want to see a space that is inviting and easy-care. They want a kitchen that make them want to eat in, gives them a place to nest and adds comfort and relaxation to their lives.
If you ask most people about the ins-and-outs of selling a home, chances are you’ll get a few diverse opinions. People who may have bought or sold only once love to give advice, this often does nothing but generate myths about the process.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common myths when it comes to selling a home:
Myth #1: The longer a home is on the market, the higher chance it will sell.
This is simply not true. In fact, the truth is just the opposite. The longer a home lingers on the market, the more likely it is to raise a red flag in the minds of potential buyers.
They tend to ask, “Why isn’t it selling? Is there a hidden flaw in it? Is it overpriced?”
The fix for a lingering listing is systematic price reductions. If potential buyers can see that the seller has been steadily dropping the price, then they will assume that the house was overpriced when it was first listed. This explains the long market time.
Also, they will come to the conclusion that since the price has steadily decreased, the seller is reasonable and is truly interested in selling their home at market value.
Myth #2: Condition and amenities matter more than price.
Surprisingly enough, this is also a common misconception. When it comes to selling, the right price is truly essential.
This does not mean that conditions and amenities are irrelevant, though. They can make the difference between one buyer loving or hating your house; however, price is a much more important factor for most buyers and is what gets the buyer’s attention.
Myth #3: Any real estate agent will do as long as they list the home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service.)
This could not be further from the truth. While the MLS is a powerful tool and gets your home in front of a large number of people, simply being the on the MLS doesn’t get your home sold in today’s market.
Choosing the right real estate agent is an important decision. You want one with:
· A track record of successfully marketing and selling homes
· Strong negotiation skills
· Knowledge of, and connections in, the community
These three factors make all the difference in determining pricing, generating buzz for your home, and getting an offer on the table. A good real estate agent can actually create opportunities for you by encouraging a buyer’s agent to write an offer. The MLS can’t do this by itself. And a good agent is looking out for your best interest.
Getting an offer is only the beginning. Keeping a transaction together takes, skill, knowledge and a cool head when problems arise.
With these myths in mind, stay clear of hearsay and advice from non-experts. Stick with the person who knows best what sells a home: your local real estate agent.
That’s me! I am well connected in the community and can sell your home fast. Just give me a call at (206) 718-5863 or email me at email@example.com. Let’s get the ball rolling today.
During the calamities and frustrations that have pummeled the real estate industry lately, there is one group that held its head up high by proving its value to consumers – real estate agents.
People are finally figuring out that real estate agents are not just salespeople. They are service providers and problem-solvers who implement specific tactics when it comes to buying or selling your home.
Knowledge is the real estate agent’s stock in trade. Living and breathing market trends and conditions every day creates expertise that the average person doesn’t possess.
Agents know what makes a home sell – and they know how to get you the best price for your purchase. This is why they are worth their weight in gold.
Not to mention the access an agent provides to you in terms of the MLS – Multiple Listing Service. This tool is the industry pipeline that connects you with buyers and sellers as well as the informational websites that allow consumers to have the latest real estate information at their fingertips.
But, of course, not all real estate agents are created equal. Before selection one, make sure you ask the right questions. Here are a few suggestions:
“How long have you been in the real estate business?”
Experience counts for a lot. Make sure your agent has a strong track record.
“What is your business philosophy?”
If an agent doesn’t have one, find one who does. You want someone who is going to go the extra mile for you and who clearly articulates how they will do just that.
“How will you stay in touch with me during the process?”
Your agent should keep you informed and on track at the pace you are comfortable with. Get this information upfront so that you’re not left wondering what’s going on.
As we move ahead, the advice of a good real estate agent will become even more valuable. Your local Realtor is our lifeline to guide you through the morass of numbers and statistics about your neighborhood. Find a good one, treat them well, and their expertise will reward you.
For more information the value of a great real estate agent, please call me at
(206) 718-5863 or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.